Features: Software & Hardware
IBM includes OS indicators for brightness (meter increase/decrease) and volume (meter increase/decrease, mute).
Of the various software enhancements that IBM includes, we want to particularly note:
- Access IBM - This is the program that pops up when you hit the blue "Access IBM" key when you are in the OS. It gives you a main menu of just about all the enhancements that IBM provides.
- IBM Active Protection System (APS) - This is perhaps one of the best features that has come from IBM in the past few years. Basically, IBM uses a motherboard-mounted motion detector (also called the "accelerometer" by IBM) that continuously monitors any motion or movement of the notebook. This data is collected by IBM's APS software, which decides if there is any action needed. If there is major movement, the APS software will temporarily park the hard drive head so data on the hard drive has a significantly reduced chance of being lost, i.e. free fall will cause it to be parked. Where prediction is used, it is done so both by hardware and software portions of APS. Note that the program shows the real time status of the notebook. If the notebook is upside down, you will see the notebook upside down in the monitor window.
- IBM Rescue and Recovery - Basically, this feature is like those that you see on other notebooks but with a more developed UI. You can save an image of the hard drive in its current state or revert back to the factory installation. If you do a clean wipe of the OS, this program will not be able to be accessed unless you install it again (can be downloaded from IBM's website - roughly 400MB). In order to recover, you need to hit the "Access IBM" button during boot up or go through the "IBM Access" main menu within the OS.
- IBM Power Management - Unlike the majority all other notebooks, the IBM X41 uses a much more hearty power management program that gives more features in order to optimize battery life to the fullest extent possible.
- IBM Access Connections - This is the connection program used to connect to WiFi access points.
There are various other enhancements that are less significant. You can go over them at IBM ThinkVantage Technology website; "ThinkVantage" is the name IBM has given to the overall group of all technology related to IBM's personal computing business. For the most part, most of the technology pertains to the ThinkPad notebooks, and it is suppose to address the "TCO" (total cost of ownership - life time cost of owning computer including repair and maintenance costs) factor. The R series has multiple sub-series and in many cases share different features, click for chart comparison.
Reinstallation of Drivers - This is a breeze, as IBM includes a single program that does all the work for you. If you do a clean OS wipe, all you need is to keep a copy of Intel's chipset INF and Broadcom LAN driver on a CD-R/CD-RW, install them, and then run the program that will take care of the rest. The need to download multiple drivers and apps is gone. This is something we have yet to see on other notebooks, and yet have been waiting to see from others. IBM got this down right, and we cannot help but emphasis how much easier this makes things.
As far as DVD/CD discs go, you will need an external optical drive. The X series platform follows the traditional ultra-portable design, wherein there is no built in optical drive. While some may complain, this is necessary to maintain an "ultra portable" form factor. In practical use, those that are on the go often do not typically need access to material on DVD/CD discs. Our sample came with an 8x DVD-ROM/24x CD-R external combo drive, and we recommend that you go the extra distance to buy an external drive matching the X41 Tablet, if you are on the go often. IBM's solution is one of a few that doesn't require you to route a separate power cable. Instead, the external drive just pulls power from the USB interface. Of course, this will drain the battery faster.